Made In China Movie Review: Boman Irani, Rajkummar Rao on a frickin' roll

Updated: Oct 25, 2019, 11:30 IST | Mayank Shekhar | Mumbai

Made In China's script is based on Ahmedabad-born, LA-based writer Parinda Joshi's novel. And sure, they get Ahmedabad right. As they do China, where lead character goes looking for business ideas.

Made In China Poster. Picture courtesy: Rajkummar Rao's Instagram account
Made In China Poster. Picture courtesy: Rajkummar Rao's Instagram account

Made In China
U/A; Comedy, Drama

Director: Mikhil Musale
Actors: Rajkummar Rao, Boman Irani, Mouni Roy
Rating: Rating

As any filmmaker between shades of Martin Scorsese to Madhur Bhandarkar will tell you, great casting is half the film done. Sure. But it's only in a movie like this, which is a leap of faith almost bordering on parody, that you realise how absolutely amazing the actors onboard are, to pull this off, oh so smoothly.

And this starts right from lead actor Rajkummar Rao (who's originally from Gurgaon) playing a middle-class, Gujarati serial-entrepreneur, with a series of failed businesses; married to a gorgeous woman (Mouni Roy), seemingly out of his league, given his Old Ahmedabad shirt-pant-moustache look, and a generally tentative demeanour. A false note here (or there)—and this character could fall flat into a spoof.

What does it do instead? Sell soup. What kind? That improves your sex life. What's it called? Tiger soup—a secret, Oriental potion. There are a couple of tigers I can think of from the Far East—Tiger balm, to cure headaches, very popular in India, back in the '90s; and Tiger Penis Soup, if I'm not mistaken, a self-explanatory, contraband Taiwanese delicacy, that has traditionally alarmed wildlife activists. You don't know if any of the above substances have much to do with the tiger soup designed to instantly up your libido.

But what does a subject like this instantly do to a film? Descend it into B-grade. And besides the performers, of course, you've got to hand it to the National Award-winning director of the Gujarati film Wrong Side Raju (2016), Mikhil Musale (his first name is after Mikhael Gorbachev), making such a sorted Bollywood debut, with a movie that could so easily go either way; but heads the right way.

The script is based on Ahmedabad-born, LA-based writer Parinda Joshi's novel of the same name. And sure, they get Ahmedabad right. As they do China, where the lead character goes looking for business ideas.

Watch the trailer of Rajkummar Rao and Mouni Roy starrer Made In China here:

Both settings essentially open themselves up to a nice, little constellation of quirky characters, half-based on real-life folk, that make them more relatable and fun—competitive cousin, who thrives on cracking big deals (Sumeet Vyas); Gujarati baron abroad, with a knack for thriving in foreign shores (there are lakhs of them, this one is wonderfully played by Paresh Rawal); Shiv Khera type management guru named Chopra (the excellent Gajraj Rao)...

There's a whole lot more. But the one giving this film a sense of proper purpose is the sexologist—the adorable Boman Irani, killing it with his old-age moves, and desert-dry wit. That curly mop might look a tad bit like Viru Sahastrabudhe's (Virus from 3 Idiots), but the character is clearly modelled on Dr Mahindra Watsa, popular sex columnist, who has an equally lovely documentary (Vaishali Sinha's Ask The Sexpert on Netflix) after him.

Sure the film, rather overtly, tackles too many things in one go. Most of it presented quite directly on a platter/bowl. But underneath all of this is an ingenious subject that so neatly captures the spirit of the current times—Indian entrepreneurship (call it 'jugaad'), and China (basically 'sasta maal'). All of it stitched together with a series of cracker one-liners on salesmanship, and general street-business gyan that sell like vada pav in bookstores.

My favourite, besides that the customer is a ch****a, is the one about how you don't sell products—you sell brands. Meaning, you don't sell a story, you sell a star. Boman, Rajkummar are clearly perfect stars for this reasonably delicious chicken-soup for the entrepreneurial soul. Dip in, for sure.

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